Extreme Protest

Activists start hunger strike for Lula’s freedom; meet the strikers

Indefinite protest starts this Tuesday outside the Supreme Court building in Brasília

Six strikers and MST leader João Pedro Stedile held a press conference this Monday / Neudicleia Neres de Oliveira

Members of people’s movements started a hunger strike for ex-president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s freedom this Tuesday in Brazil. The demonstration will go on indefinitely and will take place in the country’s capital Brasília. Six activists will participate, from three organizations: the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST), the Small Farmers’ Movement (MPA), and the People’s Movements Center (CMP).

“We are going to start a process that we consider to be necessary and historical for Brazil’s current state of affairs. It’s an even greater effort by the Brazilian society with this main goal: free Lula. We think he is innocent and he is the victim of a political persecution that became blatant during this process. They want to stop him from running in the upcoming elections” [in October], said João Pedro Stedile, from the National Coordination of the MST.

He and the six strikers held a press conference on Monday in Brasília, where the country’s Supreme Court building is based – it’s the Supreme Court (STF) that can rule to free Lula. The strikers will be outside the STF building every day for a few hours during their strike.

The six strikers are: Jaime Amorim, Vilmar Pacífico, and Zonália Santos, from the MST; Friar Sérgio Antonio Gorgen and Rafaela Alves, from the MPA; and Luiz “Gegê” Gonzaga, from the CMP.

Friar Sérgio says the measure is extreme, while also symbolically pointing to the fact that the country is once again suffering from hunger because of the decisions made by the Michel Temer's coupist administration. “We can starve as a conscious gesture for our struggle. I am doing this because I think that, if Brazil reaches the chaotic stage the elites want by stopping Lula from running for office, and if we keep this model of exclusion, millions of people will be forced into hunger” he said.

The youngest striker, Rafaela da Silva Alves, from the MPA, was moved and said that “all forms of struggle are necessary. Each moment in history requires a different level of sacrifice from people’s activists and fighters.”

Edition: Thalles Gomes | Translated by Aline Scátola